College Football Viewing Primer

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Last updated: 07/21/2011 3:36 PM
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College Football Viewing Primer - Weeks One Through Seven
By Tony Gerdeman

College football is now just six weeks away. You can almost taste it. It tastes like athletic tape and sweat.

Until we get to that first Thursday, however, all we can do to pass the time is talk about how great things are going to be. In order to help you out in your unhealthy anticipating, let's take a look at the best games throughout each week of the college football season.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it may as well be.

Week One (September 3)

National Game of the Week - Oregon vs LSU (Arlington, TX)

"The Willie Lyles Invitational". This is one of the games of the year in college football and Oregon can't afford to lose it. They are 1-3 over the last two seasons against ranked out of conference opponents, with their only win coming against #18 Utah in 2009. If Oregon wants to show that they're not a soft program, putting it to LSU is one sure way to do it. The Tigers have won 17-straight September games.

Underrated Game of the Week - TCU at Baylor

TCU lead Baylor 35-3 at the half in last year's 45-10 win over the Bears. If Baylor is capable of getting angry, this might be one to watch. Bears quarterback Robert Griffin is talented enough to make this a game.

Overrated Game of the Week - Miami (FL) at Maryland

It's Randy Edsall versus Al Golden! Feel the excitement.

Big Ten Game of the Week - Minnesota at USC

What a great platform for Jerry Kill to show the world that Minnesota has a long, long way to go. It will, however, be a chance to get a good look at MarQueis Gray at quarterback against a defense with more than a pulse.

Other Games of Note

Akron at Ohio State; Northwestern at Boston College; USF at Notre Dame; BYU at Ole Miss; Boise State at Georgia; Tulsa at Oklahoma; Marshall at West Virginia; SMU at Texas A&M;
Appalachian State at Virginia Tech

The debut of the Luke Fickell Era will come against the same team that saw the debut of the Jim Tressel Era. Surely, the Buckeyes are in for the same fortunes.

Week Two (September 10)

National Game of the Week - South Carolina at Georgia

If Georgia can get by South Carolina, the rest of their SEC schedule sets up very nicely. Assuming Stephen Garcia isn't serving a suspension in week two, this is the game of the year in the SEC East.

Underrated Game of the Week - Notre Dame at Michigan

Even when these two teams are terrible, the games are still a joy to watch. The last two meetings have been classics, with the Wolverines coming out on top in both. This game could clinch Denard Robinson's second September Heisman.

Overrated Game of the Week - Cincinnati at Tennessee

Yes, this is a matchup of two BCS teams, but is it really?

Big Ten Game of the Week - Alabama at Penn State

This is Penn State's chance to show that they still wear big boy pants, even if they are high water.

Other Games of Note

Arizona at Oklahoma State; Missouri at Arizona State; Oregon State at Wisconsin; Mississippi State at Auburn; TCU at Air Force; BYU at Texas; Utah at USC; Virginia Tech at East Carolina; Fresno State at Nebraska

Keep an eye on Oregon State at Wisconsin. The Badgers are notoriously shaky early in the season against non-conference opponents. Despite less-than demanding out of conference schedules, the last time they beat each non-conference opponent by more than one score was 2006.

Week Three (September 17)

National Game of the Week - Oklahoma at Florida State

Everybody knows how good Oklahoma is going to be, but people only think they know how good the Seminoles are going to be. This will be when we actually find out.

Underrated Game of the Week - Boise State at Toledo

Teams rarely come into the Glass Bowl and walk out with ease. Toledo will have an offense that can score, but their defense will decide whether the Rockets have a chance or not. Fortunately for Toledo, they return their entire secondary.

Overrated Game of the Week - Texas at UCLA

It's the Texas version of UCLA against the California version.

Big Ten Game of the Week - Ohio State at Miami (FL)

This is Ohio State's first roadblock on their way to telling the planet to shove it. Fortunately, Jacory Harris should still be playing, so how much of a roadblock can it be?

Other Games of Note

LSU at Mississippi State; West Virginia at Maryland; Auburn at Clemson; Michigan State at Notre Dame; Navy at South Carolina; Arizona State at Illinois; Utah at BYU; Stanford at Arizona; Tennessee at Florida; Louisville at Kentucky; Washington at Nebraska; Oklahoma State at Tulsa; Pittsburgh at Iowa

There are some very interesting games in week three, and Mississippi State at LSU is definitely one of them. The Bulldogs will be coming off of a game at Auburn, but this is by far the more important of the two.

Week Four (September 24)

National Game of the Week - Arkansas at Alabama

Alabama has won 19-consecutive conference openers (not taking into account the 1993 season that was vacated). Arkansas has dropped four straight to the Tide. Arkansas' offense against Alabama's defense will be one of the great matchups of the season.

Underrated Game of the Week - Oklahoma State at Texas A&M

Two teams that will be trying to stay with the Sooners before each gets their crack at them. Punting is losing.

Overrated Game of the Week - North Carolina at Georgia Tech

Don't worry, you don't have to care about this game. It's two overrated programs who don't need to produce results. But it'll still be fun to watch.

Big Ten Game of the Week - San Diego State at Michigan
Imagine the emotion going through those Aztec players who were brought to San Diego State by now Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. He had the unmitigated gall to leave them for a lateral move, and they won't soon forget it.

Other Games of Note

Tulsa at Boise State; Oregon at Arizona; Florida at Kentucky; Georgia at Ole Miss; Colorado at Ohio State; Missouri at Oklahoma; Notre Dame at Pittsburgh; Florida State at Clemson; LSU at West Virginia; Kansas State at Miami (FL)

LSU at West Virginia is going to be a fantastic game to watch, provided Dana Holgorsen's "Wheeling Island Offense" is full go. Florida State at Clemson is always fun for a while. It's a lot like a spring game in that way.

Week Five (October 1)

National Game of the Week – Nebraska at Wisconsin

The likely preseason picks to win the Legends and Leaders divisions, respectively (except the B1G is no longer allowing preseason picks). This is Nebraska's debut into a much better world. Unfortunately, they will have to pass through the fire before they can get there. The Badgers' average score in conference home games last year was 56-21.

Underrated Game of the Week – Texas A&M vs Arkansas (Arlington, TX)

An old SWC battle, if that sort of thing interests you. Though if they really wanted to make it an old school SWC battle, the MVP of the game would get a brand new 1982 Firebird!

Overrated Game of the Week – Alabama at Florida

Maybe I'm alone in this, but I refuse to get my hopes up for a Florida offense that may only exist against a Florida defense.

Big Ten Game of the Week (#2) – Michigan State at Ohio State

Jim Tressel left Ohio State with a 6-0 record against Michigan State, meaning that the Wolverines weren't the only Michigan school who paid rent to Jim Tressel. These two teams haven't played since 2008, and the Spartans have only beaten Ohio State twice in the last two decades. This is also the last week for the suspended Buckeyes to sit and watch.

Other Games of Note

USF at Pittsburgh; Northwestern at Illinois; Nevada at Boise State; Notre Dame at Purdue; Arizona at USC; Mississippi State at Georgia; Minnesota at Michigan; Clemson at Virginia Tech; Auburn at South Carolina

Boise gets some measure of revenge for their loss last season at Nevada, which cost them the opportunity to lose in a much better bowl game.

Week Six (October 8)

National Game of the Week – Ohio State at Nebraska

The Buckeyes return their suspended players, and the quarterback (whoever that might be) will have nearly half a season under his belt. There won't be much difficulty in integrating the returners and they should give an emotional boost to their teammates. But this is the game Nebraska has been waiting on since they told Texas to cram it with walnuts.

Underrated Game of the Week – Michigan at Northwestern

I love this rivalry. It always has a 'David vs Goliath' feel to it even though both teams are actually about 5'7".

Overrated Game of the Week – Oklahoma vs Texas

I guess in theory it's possible for anything to happen in this game, but until it does I'll continue to doubt the existence of unicorns, thanks.

Big Ten Game of the Week (#2) – Iowa at Penn State

Penn State has dropped eight of nine against Iowa, including four of five at Happy Valley. Who will ever forget the 2004 classic that saw the Hawkeyes win a 6-4 shootout? I have a feeling that Iowa is going to surprise people this year.

Other Games of Note

California at Oregon; Boise State at Fresno State; Air Force at Notre Dame; Florida at LSU; Auburn at Arkansas; Louisville at North Carolina; Florida State at Wake Forest; Miami (FL) at Virginia Tech; Connecticut at West Virginia; Missouri at Kansas State; Georgia at Tennessee; Texas A&M at Texas Tech

The SEC games this week look nice, but I can see all three mentioned above turning into blowouts. Miami (FL) at Virginia Tech is always an important game, relatively speaking, of course. Missouri and Kansas State would be a pretty big game if there was still a Big XII North.

Week Seven (October 15)

National Game of the Week - South Carolina at Mississippi State

The winner gets Mississippi State's jet plane that Steve Spurrier so covets. The Gamecocks have won five in a row against the Bulldogs, but this is the best Mississippi State team they've run into in years.

Underrated Game of the Week - Alabama at Ole Miss

Alabama has won seven-straight over Ole Miss, though three of those wins have since been vacated. In fact, four of Alabama's victories over the Rebels have been vacated or forfeited since 1993. People aren't expecting too much from Ole Miss this year, but Houston Nutt teams have a way of making things difficult when you're not expecting them to be.

Overrated Game of the Week - USC at California

This used to be a great game to get hopeful over, but Cal would generally fold like robot origami--precisely, automatically and without emotion.

Big Ten Game of the Week - Michigan at Michigan State

It's always great to see two of the better teams in the state of Michigan get after it.

Other Games of Note

Northwestern at Iowa; Clemson at Maryland; Miami (FL) at North Carolina; Toledo at Bowling Green; Utah at Pittsburgh; Oklahoma State at Texas; Ohio State at Illinois; Louisville at Cincinnati; LSU at Tennessee; Florida at Auburn

Northwestern has won five of six over Iowa, including three in a row at Iowa City. If they make it four consecutive on the road, expect nothing to happen because, after all, that's what everybody is used to.

To be continued...

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